Inmates rescue three boys whose craft overturns in creek

Larry Bohn, Nelson Pettis and Jon Fowler – give ’em some more good time!

Prisoners working in a nearby park helped save three boys whose kayak overturned in a Washington state creek, fire officials said Thursday.

Three brothers — ages 8, 10 and 16 — were floating down Salmon Creek near Salmon Creek Regional Park Wednesday afternoon when their kayak overturned, Clark County Fire District 6 Chief Jerry Green told NBC News. The park is in Washington state just north of Portland, Ore.

Ten prison inmates from the Larch Corrections Center near Yacolt, Wash., were doing park maintenance when they heard screams for help and responded quickly…

Inmate Nelson Pettis, 37, jumped into the strong current, floating downstream until he could grab the two younger boys and help them to a pile of floating debris, according to the newspaper.

“I don’t think I was thinking at all,” Pettis told The Columbian. “I was just really concentrating on getting them to safety.”

Inmate Larry Bohn, 29, helped Pettis with the rescue: “…They just seemed really scared”…

The 16-year-old boy was able to swim to shore…

Inmate Jon Fowler, 28, waited for the rescue team to arrive and helped them inflate their rescue boat, The Columbian reported…

The water was “very cold” and estimated to be moving at 25 mph, Green said. The brothers were treated for mild hypothermia, but otherwise there were no other injuries, he said. Two of the inmates were also treated for hypothermia…

Bohn and Pettis reportedly had taken off their shirts, wrapping them around the kids to keep them warm…

“I don’t think we’re heroes by any means,” inmate Fowler told The Columbian. “I think we just did what any good person would do…”

Happens more often than you think. As tough as I am on warehousing violent criminals, there are scores who are on the inside who probably shouldn’t be there in the first place. But, then, that’s a topic for a discussion about our mediocre judicial system.

America’s New Progressive Era?

In 1981, US President Ronald Reagan came to office famously declaring that, “Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.” Thirty-two years and four presidents later, Barack Obama’s recent inaugural address, with its ringing endorsement of a larger role for government in addressing America’s – and the world’s – most urgent challenges, looks like it may bring down the curtain on that era.

Reagan’s statement in 1981 was extraordinary. It signaled that America’s new president was less interested in using government to solve society’s problems than he was in cutting taxes, mainly for the benefit of the wealthy. More important, his presidency began a “revolution” from the political right – against the poor, the environment, and science and technology – that lasted for three decades, its tenets upheld, more or less, by all who followed him: George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and, in some respects, by Obama in his first term.

The “Reagan Revolution” had four main components: tax cuts for the rich; spending cuts on education, infrastructure, energy, climate change, and job training; massive growth in the defense budget; and economic deregulation, including privatization of core government functions, like operating military bases and prisons. Billed as a “free-market” revolution, because it promised to reduce the role of government, in practice it was the beginning of an assault on the middle class and the poor by wealthy special interests.

These special interests included Wall Street, Big Oil, the big health insurers, and arms manufacturers. They demanded tax cuts, and got them; they demanded a rollback of environmental protection, and got it; they demanded, and received, the right to attack unions; and they demanded lucrative government contracts, even for paramilitary operations, and got those, too….

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Living small! Guess where they hide the beds?

You can erect a prefab shed in a remote field, but that doesn’t make it a house. Mercifully, Nathan Buhler of BLDG Workshop and Evan Bare of 608 Design are more circumspect when it comes to their collaborative effort, the Bunkie. Talking to Gizmag, Buhler said that he thinks of the design more as a large product than as small-scale architecture. Effectively a spare room you can put in your yard, we think that’s bordering on understatement.

“We started with the Bunkie as a medium to experiment in ideas that cross boundaries between architecture and furniture design,” Buhler explained. Like furniture, Bunkie will be factory-built and assembled on site. Less like furniture, you can sleep in it comfortably without getting drenched or poked by a mustelid.

Built, a Bunkie has footprint of 12.5 by 8.5 ft and stands about 11 ft high. That gives the Bunkie an area of 106.25 sq ft, which is under the 108 sq ft threshold for building without planning permission under the Ontario Building Code, Buhler informs us. (Both Buhler and Bare operate out of Toronto.) “Everything can be built in a factory and shipped on site for final assembly,” Buhler said.

Bunkie is designed to be multi-purpose, and includes what the designers describe as three distinct “modes” – sleep, play and open. In sleep mode, two queen-sized wall beds flip down to turn the Bunkie into a makeshift dormitory. One folds out from the main wall of the Bunkie, while, cunningly, the other folds out from the pitch of the roof above, creating a sort of queen sized bunk bed arrangement with the top bunk accessed by ladder. A folding table and chairs are secreted in another wall, and can be removed for use in play mode. Open mode is simply use of the whole space, “for meditation, yoga, reading, etc.” Buhler suggests…

Finally, because the front and back faces of the Bunkie are composed of glass, you can basically see through it, so your view of your backyard’s rear fence needn’t be completely ruined.

Delightful. Sensible. Room for one – or two very close people. I would build it without the guest bed in the ceiling.

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords appeals for gun control

In a dramatic appeal, wounded former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords urged Congress on Wednesday to enact tougher curbs on guns, saying, “too many children are dying” without them.

“The time is now. You must act. Be bold, be courageous, Americans are counting on you,” she told the Senate Judiciary Committee at Congress’ first gun control hearing since 20 elementary school children were shot to death in Newtown, Conn., late last year.

Gifford was not on the list of witnesses released in advance of the hearings, and in an unusual show of respect, members of the committee greeted her warmly outside the hearing room as she and her husband, former astronaut and retired Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, made their way inside. The former Democratic congresswoman was grievously wounded in an assassination attempt in Tucson, Ariz., a little more than two years ago, and has become a public advocate for gun control…

The prospects for Senate passage are not strong, in part because of opposition from the NRA and in part from a reluctance among rural-state Democrats to support limitations on firearms.

Republicans pledged to listen carefully, and no more…

There is another reason; but, most of you can already define chickenshit political cowardice.

Giffords’ appearance — not only her words, but her obvious difficulty in speaking — served to underscore the emotion surrounding the issue of gun curbs. “Speech is a distant memory” for his wife, Kelly said in remarks of his own after his wife had completed her brief plea for action.

RTFA for the details, past and present legislation, lobbying from the NRA creep who earns his living as a flunky for gun manufacturers. The NRA stopped being a body representing the needs of educated, dedicated hunters long ago.

I’m a gun owner, a hunter with principles, a target shooter and even an advocate for armed self-defense for over 50 years. I support strong background checks, a ban on assault weapons and monster magazines. I want the gun show loopholes closed. I’d like to live in a country ruled by reason instead of fear and cowards.